Should the jury have been told?
Posted on October 28, 2011
I’m relieved to see that justice has prevailed this afternoon, and that Vincent Tabak’s ‘defence’ or ‘explanation’ that he hadn’t intended to kill Joanna Yeates but had simply panicked when he ‘misread’ her signals, and put his hands around her throat to stop her screaming, was given the short shrift that it deserved. I’m disappointed to hear it was a majority verdict of 10:2 rather than a unanimous verdict from the jury mind, but there you go.
What has really pissed me off though, is the news now coming out that Tabak had a particular liking for violent strangulation porn, that numerous films etc depicting this had been found on his computer, and that there was some evidence he’d watched them a number of times – i.e. they weren’t on his computer through some kind of mysterious downloading accident. And that the judge decided this information was not relevant to the case, or at least, that telling the jury about it would have been prejudicial to Tabak getting a fair hearing.
“Mr Justice Field, the trial judge, accepted that the viewing of pornography showing violence or a threat of violence was “reprehensible”. But he did not allow the jury to hear the evidence because he felt its value in explaining why Tabak acted as he did could not outweigh the prejudice it would cause his defence.
He also turned down the prosecution’s suggestion that the evidence about escort agencies should go before the jury to correct the impression Tabak gave of being sexually naive and in a loving, monogamous relationship. The jury was left ignorant of what the police believed was important evidence.“
I mean seriously?
Understandably this information has sparked quite considerable debate on Twitter, but it’s difficult to fit everything people have to say about this into Twitter’s character limit, so I thought I’d give people some space to vent/discuss the issue here.
So, your thoughts please: do you think the jury should have been told about Tabak’s liking for violent misogynist porn? Do you think a liking for violent misogynist porn is relevant evidence in a murder/sex crime case such as this? Or do you think Mr Justice Field was right, and that to admit such evidence would have been prejudicial?